Johannesburg: AB de Villiers may not be considered one of the genuine power-hitters of the game, but his record-breaking innings in Sunday’s second one-day international against West Indies at The Wanderers showed he is arguably the most skilled.
The South African captain belted a century off 31 balls, five deliveries quicker than previous record-holder Corey Anderson against the same wilting West Indian attack last year.
But there was not a slog to be seen as he manoeuvred himself around the crease to create the right angles to score, and used his incredible eye and quick hands to loft the ball through the thin Highveld air and over the boundary.
Having sat through almost 39 overs as South Africa piled on 247-runs for the opening wicket, De Villiers promoted himself up the order.
When he joined Hashim Amla in the middle, he told his fellow batsman that he was "going to have a look for one over."
That theory lasted only seconds as he slapped his first ball down the ground for four.
When he took 20 runs from four balls in Andre Russell’s next over, he set himself up for a shot at the record for the quickest half-century and got there with two more sixes off opposing captain Jason Holder.
Not content to take a breather, he struck the next ball for six too as a Wanderers crowd that have seen many special knocks from De Villiers before began to sense they were in for another treat.
And he just kept going.
West Indies tried varying the length, the line and the pace of their deliveries but it made no difference.
As he neared the record for the fastest century, he used the same method to get past that milestone off the same unfortunate bowler.
Two sixes to pass the record and the next ball over the boundary too as if to emphasise his dominance.
There was little fuss at reaching the milestone either: A smile, a casual raise of the bat and hug for batting partner Amla.
If there could ever be a disappointment to come from such a brilliant innings, it is that De Villiers fell one run short of shattering another record.
When he was caught by Russell, he was out for 149 from 44 deliveries. It meant he had missed out on also notching up the fastest 150 in ODI cricket, that record held by Australia’s Shane Watson off a relatively sedate 83 deliveries.
But De Villiers does not care about that, if he did he would have taken an easy single. Instead he was caught on the cover boundary going for another six.
When he first came on the international scene as a raw but talented 21-year-old in 2004, he brashly stated his ambition was to be the best batsman in the world.
There were more than a few raised eyebrows at the time, but on Sunday former England bowler Bob Willis summed up De Villiers` standing in the sport.
"I’ve been saying for the last 30 years that Viv Richards has to be the best batsman of all time, even better than Sir Don Bradman in my book," he said. "But I’m going to have to reassess because this guy is something extraordinary."